Suddenly on a roll

By BRIAN GOMEZ THE GAZETTE Updated: February 26, 2006 at 12:00 am • Published: February 26, 2006
DULUTH, Minn. - Whatever Colorado College coach Scott Owens told his players in a closed-door meeting earlier this month seems to have worked. Three special teams goals in the second period were all goaltender Matt Zaba needed, and No. 5 CC extended its winning streak to four games Saturday with a 5-2 victory against Minnesota Duluth before an announced crowd of 5,031 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. The Tigers remained in fourth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, three points behind second-place Denver and two points behind third-place Wisconsin. They hold a three-point lead over North Dakota and St. Cloud State, who are tied for fifth. No. 1 Minnesota has clinched the WCHA regular-season title. CC can secure home ice for a first-round series of the WCHA playoffs with a tie or win against No. 11 Denver in next weekend’s final regular-season series, a St. Cloud State tie or loss against No. 2 Wisconsin, or a North Dakota loss to Michigan Tech. CC is 23-12-1, 15-10-1 in the WCHA. Minnesota Duluth is 9-21-4, 6-17-3. In the second period, right wing Joey Crabb scored a short-handed goal between power-play goals by left wing Brett Sterling and defenseman Jack Hillen. Left wing J.P. Brunkhorst and center Brandon Polich scored even-strength goals in the first period. Zaba stopped 32 shots for his national-best 19th win. Both of the goals Zaba (19-10-1) allowed were on the power play. “It’s hard to sweep in this league,” Owens said. “We came out in the first period and got on top of them, and we had the power play working in the second period.” Sterling’s nation-leading 14th power-play goal came after center Marty Sertich fluttered a pass over Crabb from the point. Sterling collected the puck to the right of the net and beat goaltender Isaac Reichmuth (6-15-4) on a backhand. Crabb also scored his shorthanded goal on a backhand, sending a pass off defenseman Jason Garrison’s skate. It marked Crabb’s seventh goal in the past 10 games. Hillen’s goal was his second on the power play this season. He hadn’t scored since he replaced defenseman Brian Salcido on the top power-play unit. “They were taking away that pass from Marty to myself,” said Sterling, who is tied for the national lead with 26 goals and has 103 career goals, nine shy of Ron Hartwell’s school record. “Jack Hillen was stepping in the middle, taking shots. We were getting shots through.” It might not have mattered if walk-on Chris Kawano had continued to play for Zaba, who missed the three games before this weekend because of a bruised right knee. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 19-5 and have posted nine power-play goals in their fourgame winning streak. They haven’t allowed more than three goals since Feb. 3 in a 4-2 loss to North Dakota. “We’re keeping the quality scoring chances down,” Zaba said. “(The defensemen) are moving the puck well, and they’ve been getting it in the forwards’ hands. And they’ve been able to score.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0256 or NEXT Denver (19-13-2, 16-8-2) at Colorado College (23-12-1, 15-10-1), 7:37 p.m. Thursday, 1240 AM
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